Editing The Dead
A brainwavez.org Interactive-Film Review

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 18 November 2010
Category: Screen > Interactive > Reviews
Tags: #horror, #zombies
brainwavez.org Comments View Comments

What if you could influence the events that unfold in Night Of The Living Dead by making choices to direct the characters in the story? That is the premise of the interactive movie Editing The Dead.

Editing The Dead is an interactive movie created with edited clips of Night Of The Living Dead. At key points you are given choices as to how to proceed, and you click on the option that you prefer. Some lead to an untimely demise, while others advance the story.

Editing The Dead

That's the theory, anyway. Once you jump into the project it becomes clear that there's very little interactivity beyond a certain point. It starts out well, with clever options that you'll appreciate if you're familiar with the movie, but after a few correct choices you end up in a linear recut story with only one choice that advances the narrative. This discovery is quite disappointing.

If you make an incorrect choice you are given the option to "Try Again", which skips the narrative one video back so that you can choose the other available option. When you reach an interactive point a timer in the top-left corner begins to run out, hurrying you along to make a decision (if there is a decision to be made beyond just clicking the only option made available to you). If you take too long the video ends and, presumably, so does your time in the story. Unfortunately this doesn't really serve any purpose as you can just skip forwards and backwards on the YouTube playback bar.

Editing The Dead

On a technical level, the videos run on YouTube, utilising the site's annotation/linking tools to provide the interactive component. This has been done before with other interactive movies, most of which contain original footage shot specifically for the project, so this one is unique in that only existing Night Of The Living Dead footage was used and recut as necessary to suit a less linear experience. The story is split into 24 videos, including the title screen and the story-ending choices. Each, bar the short title screen, which plays in HD (720p - in other words a screen resolution of 1280x720), defaults to 360p (640x360), although you also have have the usual YouTube options of 240p and 480p. At 360p the videos, which are Flash video (.flv) files, range between a few hundred kilobytes and just over five megabytes, and the entire story, including all the wrong endings, is about 60 MB.

(For those interested, to give you an idea of size differences, a 27-second clip at 360p is 1.9 MB and at 720p that same clip is 5.6 MB.)

Editing The Dead

If you're a fan of Night Of The Living Dead I'd recommend that you play around with this project, as the way the clips are edited is very interesting, and also demonstrates great potential. The developers, werkbund, have defended their lack of later interactivity by saying that they could only work with what they had, but I think a little more contemplation of the available footage and what could have been done with it could have gone a long way to making this a more enjoyable project. For example, there's a part about 17 minutes into the movie in which a zombie manages to get into the house and there's a shot angle where you see Barbra is in danger. That could be used at many points as a game-ending option and it doesn't really matter if it's the same footage - how many times haven't Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy books used the same generic paragraph as a convenient story-ending moment for a variety of wrong choices made by the player, precisely to provide more interactivity and more chance of the player making a mistake?

You could also have a story section with Ben shouting "Ready upstairs? Ok, toss 'em", and then two choices (Toss To The Left | Toss To The Right). Both of the resulting choices would start with the Molotov cocktail flying out the window, but one option results in it landing in front of the truck and scaring off the zombies and the other results in the truck catching fire and exploding (and perhaps that's a story-ending move - you can't escape because you have no truck and the zombies then overrun the house). It just requires some lateral thinking and some careful editing. I feel, instead, that this project was rushed in order to get it online in time for Halloween 2010 (the clips were uploaded on 15 and 16 October).

Night Of The Living Dead is in the public domain, hence the ability for anyone to create projects such as Editing The Dead (or Night Of The Living Dead: Reanimated, which we recently reviewed on brainwavez.org). Editing The Dead has been released into the Creative Commons, so perhaps someone else will build upon what the developers started as it's a really great idea, it just needs better execution.

brainwavez.org Opinion Share
Rating: 3/10
Interactivity: 3/10
Replayability: 3/10
Originality: 4/10

Watch Online Editing The Dead
Streaming Video Watch Online: YouTube
• Title screen, streaming, 240p/360p/480p/720p

Watch Online Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Streaming Video Watch Online: YouTube
• Full movie, streaming, HD

Download Download: Internet Archive
• Various options for PC, DVD, and iPod
Download Download: Internet Archive, Blu-Ray Version
• Various options for PC, DVD, and iPod

Key Facts: Editing The Dead
Year: 2010
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror, Interactive
Format: Interactive; Full screen 1.33:1; Black and white
Language: English

Key Facts: Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Year: 1968
Running Time: 96 minutes (approx)
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror
Format: Feature; Full screen 1.33:1; Black and white
Language: English
Country: USA
Director: George A Romero
Duane Jones ... Ben
Judith O'Dea ... Barbra
Karl Hardman ... Harry Cooper
Marilyn Eastman ... Helen Cooper
Keith Wayne ... Tom
Judith Ridley ... Judy
Karl Hardman ... producer
Russell Streiner ... producer
John A Russo ... writer
George A Romero ... writer
Cinematography: George A Romero
Bruce Capristo ... hair stylist
Karl Hardman ... makeup artist

On The Internet
Editing The Dead:
Night Of The Living Dead (1968):

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